boost-business-with-a-social-media-virtual-assistant

Boost business with a social media virtual assistant

Of course everyone who begins an online business wants it to be successful. They do everything they possibly can, learn everything they possibly can, and try to put it all into action. They believe that this is the recipe for success. Many times this is unfortunately not the correct way to approach things. Doing everything yourself can often leave you stressed, burnt out, and unmotivated. This often leads to disastrous results. One of the best ways to combat this is to outsource work to those who are experienced in that particular area.

 

A great example of this would be to hire what is known as a Social Media Virtual Assistant. Also known as a Social Media manager, this individual’s responsibilities would be to do some small business marketing on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This would be a help to your business because it is one less task that you have to learn how to do. It frees up your time to do other important tasks to make sure your business is on the right road to success. Even if you decided to learn how to do some social media marketing yourself, you would not be classified as an “expert.”

 

A VA who specializes in social media often has a vast array of experience in this area and can provide you with results most likely a lot quicker then you would see by doing it yourself. Yes, it would also be an expense to hire a Virtual Assistant. Especially a Virtual Assistant who specializes in such a hot area right now such as social media.

 

This often puts a new business owner off because their marketing funds are limited. But, if you take the time to weigh the pro’s and con’s of hiring or not hiring this VA, you will see that the pro’s totally outweigh the cons especially in the long run. You will be on the way to having increased traffic, higher revenue, and keeping your sanity and stress level at a minimum. All wonderful reasons to include a Social Media Virtual Assistant on your team.

 

Save Time. Make More Money. Grow Your Practice. Let Golean Health take care of your office needs while you and your staff spend more time serving your patients.

 

virtual-assistants-can-help-your-marketing

Virtual Assistants Can Help Your Marketing

Marketing is one of the most important things for any business. In a world millions of businesses, both online and offline, the ability to advertise well and make yours stand out occupies much of your time and effort. However, it’s also very easy to be swamped in the tedious, but very necessary task of advertising for your company and end up spending all day, every day doing things like posting blogs, creating advertisements, and promoting your website through social networking and other things. Marketing is very important, but time consuming, so you may want to consider unloading the bulk or the entirety of it onto a virtual assistant or two.

A virtual assistant can do all manner of things to help with your marketing. He or she can write up the advertisements for posting, post and respond to blogs about your products and services, and even advertise on his own social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. By outsourcing your marketing, you not only get someone who can do the more tedious work, but you also access another customer market as your virtual assistant can tell his friends and family about your products and services; and if this assistant lives halfway across the world, that’s a whole new customer base to build on.

A virtual assistant can also take care of any forums you have posted about your products and manage your customer lists while helping to make them grow. Your virtual assistant can also contact other clients and customers for you and send along any day to day notifications you have so that you don’t have to do it. Your assistant can also help to answer any questions that potential customers may have about your product, write up blogs and promotional articles, and other marketing tasks that you think might help your product grow and prosper online.

A virtual assistant can do many of the most tedious, but very important tasks related to marketing your products and services so that your profits can grow and your business can grow. For a low cost of only around $1100/month, you can find a qualified promoter of your goods so that you can concentrate on other business issues. A virtual assistant can easily commit the time and attention required to market your business, products and services.

Contact Golean Health for more information about working with a dedicated medical virtual assistant.

 

hand-carry-the-letter-icon-email-concept

Branding Your EMails

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Here’s irony. I not only remember, but still possess, an artifact from the ’80s: a special “letterhead book.” These publications accommodated thousands of letterhead, envelope, and label designs. Designing a letterhead had become a work of art, honed by the imperative of clearly reflecting a company’s brand image.

By 1998, most Western countries noticed electronic mail exceeded the “snail mail” output and input. Suddenly, e-mail replaced regular mail. This signaled the demise of good old, paper-based letterhead.

Why has virtually no attention been given to the design of electronic letterhead? If I review the approximately 300 e-mails I receive on a daily basis from various companies all over the world, just five — yes, you read that right: five — e-mails are equipped with brand markers. By brand markers, I mean something beyond a signature line in Courier New font.

How many business e-mails do you send daily? 100? More? How many letters do you send every day? 10? Fewer? In all likelihood, you send 10 times as many emails as you do paper mail. Yet, I’ll bet the first thing you did when your company opened its doors was to print… yes, letterhead! Right? Why wasn’t the first thought designing an e-letterhead? An email template to reflect your company’s spirit. You must have known you’d use email in communications many times more frequently than any other medium.

We are overlooking email as a branding tool. Many emails in my inbox, sent by people at some of the world’s most respected brands, don’t even display consistent signature lines. They change from message to message. Worse, often there’s no signature line at all, just the sender’s name (which, by the way, seems to become abbreviated to just a first name when the dialogue is friendly). Brand is 100 percent invisible. The person sending the e-mail is a more visible brand than the company at which they are employed.

Five features should characterize email in the future:

  • A well-designed email template. This should be something simple and memorable that reflects the brand’s values without overpowering the e-mail message. 
  • Consistent use of that template by everyone in the company. 
  • Guidelines for template use, such as variations on the template for separate divisions, countries, products/services, and so forth. 
  • A backup template for recipients whose technology can’t read the fancy edition. 
  • Significantly, investment in creating guidelines for email writing; subject lines; signatures; font choice; and content emphasis in a consistent, brand-led manner.

Your brand is not merely your logo. It’s every consumer touch point. That includes e-mail. A good online marketing company, like Student Marketing Agency, is very familiar with this and knows all strategies.

My letterhead book is collecting dust on a bookshelf. But it’s waiting for a companion edition: an e-letterhead book. How long will the space beside that letterhead book remain empty? When will the corporate world care about the look and the message of its e-mail?

This is a big topic. Over the next two weeks, I’ll focus on the art of constructing effective, branded e-letters. E-letterhead is just one essential. Effective communication of content in each email is another.

 

leadership-concept

Great Leadership Depends

leadership-conceptYou might be doing everything a good leader is supposed to do and still find yourself both frustrated and ineffective.

The reason is not obvious. In fact, most leadership advice-givers make a critical error in the way they address leadership. As it is known by great motivational speakers such as Richard Jadick, the underlying assumption is that good leadership results from the individual’s attitudes and actions.

That’s only half right.

 

The other half, as shown by the diagram above (click it to enlarge it), is the role of the leader’s organization to either support or thwart the leader’s individual efforts at leading well.

When a leader is working very hard at exhibiting good leadership skills, but his or her organization does little to nothing to support those efforts, that leader is going it alone. And will end up in the upper left quadrant. Frustrated. And likely to leave the organization.

We strongly urge our clients to think past the outdated concept that good leadership is solely up to the individual. It’s just not true. And that’s why so many Leadership Development efforts fall flat. They are predicated on (essentially) “fixing” leaders but do nothing to address the critical role that the organizational environment plays in determining the true effectiveness of a leader.

Good organizational support systems (for hiring, firing, compensating, declaring clear priorities, and the like) can help a good leader more easily become a great leader.

And, as the lower right quadrant shows, force a lousy leader to act, at least occasionally, a little more like a good one.

Great leadership results from both individual efforts and the collective support systems in the leader’s environment.

Implications & Takeaways

In developing the leaders around you, evaluate the processes and the institutionalized habits that help or hinder your supervisors and managers. What policies and programs need strengthening? Which are long overdue for an overhaul (or an execution)?

If you are convinced that your own leaderful actions are being defeated by corporate policy or culture, ask yourself:

  • How can I modify what I’m doing to more effectively counter the opposing forces?
  • What can I do to eliminate the very existence of such forces?
  • Given current trends, what’s the likelihood of this situation improving in the near future?
  • How long can I remain committed, motivated, and effective in this environment?
  • What are my alternatives?

Remember, all leadership is contextual. Your effectiveness is, without question, as much tied to time, place, and other managers, as your own resolve and actions.

Leadership is not a solo sport, and it cannot take place in a vacuum. While you need not wait for ideal conditions to practice good leadership, you might find over time that suboptimal conditions could well detract from your potential contribution.

Do what you can. And consciously decide what that is.

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Mission Statement Sets the Stage

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I am regularly called upon by company leaders to help them “improve the workplace environment.” Leaders know that help is required to motivate staff, to deal with conflict and to get everyone pointed and pulling in the same direction.

I recently worked with a company that has just realigned after a shareholder buyout. Long standing conflict and conversations about “what was” and “how awful” are disappearing in favour of “excitement for the new.” With the loss of any team member(s) a whole new team forms. This team is adjusting to new roles, aligning support for each other over various responsibilities, and defining work-related parameters.

The principals, drained by the transition, are now focused on building their new team. They want to increase employee commitment to the “new” company. Each partner has a similar, yet different idea of the company mission and how to proceed. The principals had failed to formulate a mission statement despite attempting to do so over a five-year period. They decided to bring in help.

We instructed the partners to provide us with their vision and mission statement and to do so in isolation from each other. A subsequent meeting was arranged. During the second meeting we had them answer critical questions, the findings of which were key to formulating their new mission statement. After an hour and a half the task was complete.

Like many business owners they had spent countless hours with each other, with staff, at work and during secluded retreats. They estimated the cost to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. While their intent was great their results were nil – until now.

“Your mission is your purpose for existing as a business,” I reminded them. “Everything you do must align with your mission statement.” Every day leaders face business decisions that leave them doubting. The single question that clarifies their next step is “What is my purpose here?” A crystal clear mission statement makes the next step possible.

The partners know their mission statement is invaluable and want their staff to use it. They have planned a three-part intervention to invite staff’s buy-in. I reminded the partners that when the leaders make decisions in the absence of employee input, employees have no attachment to it. They feel no commitment and no passion to carry out the plan. However, when staff is invited to join the enterprise and to help move the company forward, they feel valued and will get involved.

That is exactly what is happening here.

Practical steps are insufficient. It’s essential that leaders use external specialists, highly skilled in developing mission statements and intimately familiar with human responses. Understanding why people resist, where they feel vulnerable, and how to surface employee’s real concerns, is critical. Partners need to understand their own leadership style, their unique methods of decision-making and their values. By doing so they can learn not to inflame employees and unintentionally create a difficult environment. One thing that is helpful to pass the message you want to the employees and create a united team is hiring a motivational speaker – if you want to check one, a great option is Richard Jadick.

Committed to developing a highly engaged, communicative and innovative staff, the principals are now creating a positive economic impact for their company. Everyone wins.

If you are the leader, it’s your role to set the stage. How you, or those you appoint on your behalf, manage your people, design your mission statement, build commitment to the company, and reorganize your company is paramount to your success. Quality is never about things. It’s about your people.

 

Brand Checkup: Relevance and Intuitiveness

Today we’re discussing how to evaluate your brand’s online presence and optimize its performance. We’ll look at content relevance and site intuitiveness.

Test: Does your home page attempt too much?

The more you have to say, the more focused you should be. Ever visited a site and wondered where to start? Visit any global brand Website, such as Disney.com or Nokia.com, and you’ll discover it is hard to find what you’re looking for. These companies try to say everything to everyone at the same time. Each topic must fight for attention and for space on the home page.

Saying everything to everyone, not to mention squeezing it all onto the home page, is impossible. Branding is about establishing relevance. The more relevant your brand is to the consumer, the more likely that consumer is to purchase your brand.

Structure content in such a way that your message appears only when it’s relevant. How? Forget about an internal site search engine. Instead, establish microsites, each representing essential offerings from your company.

Imagine you’re an insurance company that offers everything from old-age and life insurance to property, car, and boat insurance, travel coverage… you name it. Instead of displaying all those policies at once, spread the information around. Establish a site that focuses 100 percent on old-age insurance, linking to your corporate site as well, of course. Establish another that focuses entirely on property insurance. Each site should be optimized for search engines, ensuring it appears when a user types the site’s subject as a key phrase (e.g., “property insurance”). A company that claims expertise in everything garners less credibility than a company that offers niche expertise.

Test: Is your brand intuitive?

Like me, I’ll bet you’ve purchased a video recorder and found the instruction manual heavier than the appliance. Most probably, the VCR can do amazing things. But the manual’s so indigestible, you use only the simplest of functions — the intuitive ones.

Brand building, online and off-, is much more than ensuring logo visibility. Branding must be intuitive. It should require no instruction manual, lengthy description, or oracular guidelines. Ask yourself what a typical first-time user would want to know. What would a second-time user be after? The needs are bound to be vastly different. Brand usability is essential.

Experience clearly shows customers who have difficulty finding what they’re looking for on a site cultivate a diminished opinion of the brand. Analyze the type of information each consumer is most likely to be after, right this very minute, and structure that information in such way that navigating through it is intuitive.

Relevance and intuitiveness are essential parts of a healthy online brand’s life. Did you pass this week’s brand health check? If you did, stay tuned for next week’s installment. At this rate, your site is elevating closer to brand heaven. Are you nearly there?

Why a Traffic Retention Strategy Matters

It’s getting increasingly harder to generate and secure traffic to your site. Time to reconsider your strategy for building this valuable asset? Statistics show persuading a customer to visit your site is 10 times more difficult than persuading existing customers to make a purchase.

What’s your traffic retention strategy? What measures are in place for retaining visitors?

It’s said Amazon.com’s original strategy was to retain customers for at least 10 years. That’s an ambitious goal. But you do need a traffic retention strategy that looks further into the future than one day or one week. Short-sightedness is characteristic of most sites. Look 3, 6, or even 12 months ahead. Give more to each customer during that period. There are returns with this strategic investment. You won’t make your goal tomorrow, but perhaps six months to a year from now you will.

Why talk about long-term strategy in times demanding instant return on investment (ROI) and instant results? Because your customers aren’t dumb. We’re all customers, after all. We’re all sick and tired of the never-ending addictions to decreasing quality and supposedly “special” offers. While everyone focuses on short-term goals, today’s discount, and other gimmicks, smart marketers combine this thinking with long-term vision. They’re plotting in substantial timeframes to survive beyond today.

Brands that will reap rewards in 6 to 12 months are those adopting parallel short- and long-term strategies. In doing so, they communicate to customers they don’t stand for short-term, opportunistic gain. They want to build loyalty.

Easier said than done? Yes. In coming weeks, I’ll take you through some future-focused activities you should consider adopting. They can help you establish more enduring customer loyalty, secure valuable repeat visits to your site, and encourage increased frequency of return and consequential revenue gain.

None of this will put an end to your day-to-day, short-term strategies, important for generating buzz around your site. The two approaches must be combined and work in harmony. Make your customers feel you’re in business for the long haul and not, like so many other Web sites, only for today. Acting like there’s no tomorrow can persuade visitors that’s exactly the case. There’s no reason for them to visit again.

A golden tip to help you through these difficulties is to seek help from a professional source, such as Student Marketing Agency.

New Training Option for Marketing and PR

Power Hour Concept Trains Fast

How many times have you sat through days of training that could have easily been scaled back to one or two hours? Would you like to learn time management, the art of planning or how to encourage collaboration in just one powerful training hour?

Author and trainer Lisa Haneberg has developed an effective training model that can be applied to numerous topics and gets it all done in one hour.

Power Hour Training Model

In her new book titled, Developing Great Managers, 20 “Power Hour” Conversations that Build Skills FAST (2008, American Society for Training and Development), Haneberg lays out a training model that could easily be applied to marketing and public relations training.

The basis of the model is to turn conversations into training. The trainees are given a pre-work assignment that will help generate a good conversation about a topic. Learning objectives are defined for each topic as well as a trainer’s agenda with the full hour broken down into activities or discussions and there are sample questions provided for the instructor to stir up the conversation.

The Art of Planning Training Power Hour

While the author provides 20 topics for the model such as Management in Modern Times, Mind Your Metrics, Defining Excellence, Mastering Your Time and Your Leadership Legacy, the example examined in this article is The Art of Planning.

In the pre-work assignment, Haneberg suggests the participants find a blog or article they can share when they meet with the other trainees. Learning objectives for the hour include discussing the importance of planning, identifying positive daily and weekly planning habits and creating a plan for the coming week.

The trainer’s agenda has the first 10 minutes for discussion of the pre-work. The next 15 minutes to present the topic, 10 minutes for discussion using the sample questions provided. Then there are 15 minutes allowed for an exercise (also provided by the author) and the final 10 minutes for further discussion and assignments.

The assignment in this power hour was to use the daily and weekly planning practices discussed in the training for the next two weeks.

Can a Topic be Trained Effectively in an Hour?

Is the power hour training model unrealistic and a waste of a good hour? It is already being used by webinar training.

There is so much potential for this model to be used in so many types of training. It would fit perfectly with podcast or vidcast on-demand training. Orientation training could easily use this model.

New employees could spend the first hour of their first day watching a one hour video or listening to podcast about the company, then work an hour or two with a co-worker. After lunch, they could watch or listen to another power hour training on how do a certain process or on safety rules.

Throughout the first week, the new employee could watch the power hour training a couple of times a day and do actual work the rest of the time.

Schedule a Power Hour Training Brainstorm Session

After giving the power hour training model an in-depth review, get your human resource development team together and use a power hour training to brainstorm ways to use the model within your organization. If used properly, the model can be a powerful way to teach and to learn.

Online Advertising for Internet Newbies

What You Need to Know to Get Started Online

Advertising used to be a fstraightforward business. An ‘ad agency’ would created advertisements and placed them in various venues. The venues were fairly limited, like newspapers, magazines or billboard and other outdoor advertisement. If the ad campaign was well funded and aggressive, it might include commercials on local television.

Advertising agencies used to hold the key to the marketplace. They had the contacts, the computer and graphic know-how, and the network of professional alliances needed to make a splash into the marketplace. A successful ad campaign could literally make or break a product.

But, those days are over thanks to the internet, which places the business owner directly in front of their audience. Now, advertising isn’t some esoteric creative activity and the possible outlets for advertising are overwhelming. Instead, advertising is an ever changing, unending flow of information from business to consumer.

Here are some things to know about online advertising:

Somebody uses a search engine they generally only visit the first few sites that pop up on the results page. In fact, Penn State found that 80% of searchers only visit the first three sites on the results list. Showing up high on the list is important and even necessary if you’re trying to reach a large audience!

Advertising can be a good way to advertise, but only if it’s done in a way that isn’t related to spammers and scams. Buying lists and sending out an onslaught of untargeted letters isn’t likely to do much for your business. Creating informative emails and sending them only to those likely to be interested is a much better bet.

With tons of things offered on the internet, it’s impossible to get attention simply by being loud or persistent. In fact, those old strategies seem desperate in today’s market. Instead, creative, hip and innovative advertisements can push a product or business over the top. Videos can go viral, ads can be forwarded in email chains and a quirky campaign can sweep the nation.

Online advertising can benefit those willing to take the time to learn about strategies and trends in the online marketpalce. And, while it can be intimidating to launch your own online advertising campaign, know that the rules are always changing. All it takes is one great idea and a creative person to shake up the rules and start a new wave of advertising techniques!

Innovative and Low Cost Advertising

A New Book Details Marketing Ideas from Entrepreneurs

Lack of money for advertising often leads to innovative thinking for ways to market. A new book, The Risk Takers (Vanguard Press, 2010) by Renee and Don Martin profiles 16 entrepreneurs and their strategies for success including their successful marketing ideas.

Low or No Budget Advertising

Five of the sixteen companies include:

  • The author’s own real estate business
  • Amy’s Kitchen
  • The Geek Squad
  • John Paul Mitchell Systems
  • Kinko’s

Each of the sixteen case studies provides a look at the startup, the rise to success, and often times the sale of highly successful companies along with the challenges faced along the way. One of those challenges included no money for advertising.

Innovative Marketing

Amy’s Kitchen started their rise to fame by traveling to trade shows and making in person sales calls. The company’s products are made of organic products which sets them apart from many of the frozen food lines. The company thought the quality of the product deserved a first-hand account. As such, Amy’s Kitchen got noticed without spending large amounts of money for advertising instead opting for face-to-face meetings and promoting.

The authors quoted Robert Stephens, founder of the Geek Squad, “Advertising is a tax you pay on having an unremarkable brand, and training is a tax you pay for having an uninspired internal culture.”

Stephens developed unconventional methods of building his company’s brand through the uniform that his employees wore and with a car painted as a police car with the Geek Squad logo painted on the sides. The Geek Squad is setup after the old television series, Dragnet, and the service professionals are known as agents trying to solve a computer failure crime. Truly, this is unforgettable marketing.

Kinko’s, was founded by Paul Orfalea who had many learning disabilities and could not hold a job. He found a niche and promptly filled it. His method of advertising included selling pens and notebooks on the streets of local college campuses.

Find a Way to Promote

One important message to learn from this book is that all of the startup companies used some form of advertising and marketing. Often times it was a bit unconventional. Nonetheless it worked.

Where there is a will, there is always a way. Taking the time to find the niche can very easily be the answer to finding the way to advertise. Go to where the need is, talk directly to the target market with whatever medium will reach, and get the message to the people.